While there is ample legislation in place to prevent such things from happening, it would be hard to argue against the assertion that agency land holds an unconscious bias against those over the age of 40. While this often manifests itself in intangible ways, Campaign’s study on the subject paints a bleak picture of the industry’s attitude towards age.
There are always exceptions that prove the rule, and most recruiters can give examples where we've helped people with a vast wealth of experience get back into the agency landscape after a time out of the industry. That being said, it’s still undeniably harder than it should be to place smart, capable candidates in jobs relevant to their experience, just because of their age. There’s a myriad of influences that could be contribute to this - from a misguided belief that a line manager would struggle to manage someone older than them, to the rapid developments in media (particularly in digital) creating a ‘Cult of Newness’ in agencies; whatever the reason, it’s pure folly to discard a whole section of the workforce at a time when established talent is increasingly hard to find.
That’s why it’s really encouraging to see agencies approach the problem head on, starting the process of revolutionizing ways of thinking when it comes to attracting top talent into their companies.
IPA data confirms that the cliché that "advertising is a young person’s game" is more than just a lazy stereotype. The average age of employees at all IPA member agencies is 33.7, a figure that has remained static since 2009 and prompts the question: "Where does everyone go?" Is it time to broaden the ongoing debate around "the war for talent" to tackle the in-herent ageism that is unpinning this great exodus from the industry?